Tuesday’s weather was a little better, so we walked up through Wan Chai Park, (a typical small urban space but with a fenced off community garden with raised beds, like mini allotments), with the intention of getting a bus to Stanley. The bus stop was east of the park gate, not west like Google indicated. We wanted the number 6 but the faster 6X came first and only cost 50c more.
Soon we were through the Aberdeen Tunnel, then a windy road took us along the coast past Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay. The green hills topped with low cloud looked quite rural, but big high rise blocks in the villages reminded us that we were still in one of the most densely populated places on earth.
The bus stopped at the Stanley Plaza mall, where most passengers disembarked, but we stayed on until Stanley Village, right by the famous market. I’m not really sure why Stanley Market is famous. It’s mostly clothes and souvenirs, a few luggage places, and one nice jewellery shop – we were done in 10 minutes. Perhaps we weren’t the best judges as we weren’t actually in the market for buying anything, but even if we had been I’m not sure I’d have been impressed. Perhaps it’s just cheap.
Along the prom were lots of schoolkids with questionnaires, and probably the same questions that schools all over Asia seem to use – we engaged in earnest conversation and avoided eye contact. Walking north to the Plaza mall, we looked at restaurants but decided to eat in Aberdeen instead. The Plaza mall was built against a steep hill so was a bit confusing – we entered on the ground floor by the sea, and exited on the 5th floor for the bus stop. There was no sign for the number 73 so we waited for the 973 – but then a 52 green minibus labelled Aberdeen pulled in, so we got that instead. It was only HK$8.90 instead of HK$13+ that we’d have paid on the 973, and we were the only tourists on board – perhaps because all the stops seemed to be unmarked. The minibuses in Hong Kong seem to be a secret closely guarded by its inhabitants!
We alighted in Aberdeen Main Road and found nice looking dumpling place but it was totally full, so we made do with another Circle K egg and salmon sandwich, eaten sitting on the wall by the harbour (once we managed to find the subway under the busy coastal road).
The quay was crowded with large rectangular ‘boats’ – some looked like houses, some were floating restaurants. In a rare gap a small boat pulled in to cook 4 helpings of char sui noodles for waiting customers, then went on its way. At each end of the promenade were ferries to Lamma Island – Sok Kwu Wan at the western end by the fish market, to Yung Shue Wan at the eastern end, where there were also boats to Cheung Chau and distant Po Toi islands.
Catching a 71 bus from the fish market, we returned to back to Sheung Wan via Telegraph Bay, with good views out to sea from our upstairs seats. At the tram stop we had to let the first one go as it was so crowded, but on the next we got seats at the back upstairs. As the tram filled up I worried that we wouldn’t be able to get off, as people standing upstairs and on the stairs. Then I realised there were stairs at front too, and a one-way system operated – on at the back, off at the front, paying a flat fare HK$2.30 on the way off. Given that the trams run right along Hong Kong Island’s north coast from Kennedy Town to Shau Kei Wan for the same fare, they are definitely Hong Kong’s best transport bargain.